Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Jonesin' 4:48 (Derek) 


LAT 3:08 (Derek) 


NYT 3:44 (Amy) 


Universal 4:16 (Jim Q) 


WSJ 7:12 (Nate) 


Xword Nation untimed (Ade) 


Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Crsswrd Nation puzzle (Week 466), “Tax Haven”—Ade’s take

Crossword Nation puzzle solution, Week 466: “Tax Haven”

Hello there, everybody. May the Fourth be with you and watch out for the Revenge of the Fifth!  

Today’s crossword puzzle could be one that you might have described as taxing. In a way. Each of the four longest entries in the puzzle is a multiple-word answer in which the first word can also come after the word “tax.”

  • SHELTER IN PLACE (16A: [Stay-at-home directive during an emergency])
  • DODGER STADIUM (29A: [World’s largest baseball park, by seating capacity]) – What I wouldn’t do right now to bite into a Dodger Dog right now after seeing this in the puzzle!! Mmmmmm!
  • RETURN TICKETS (46A: [Coming home purchases])
  • CUT ME SOME SLACK (62A: [“Back off, will you?”])

When opening a grid and noticing the number of long entries, one can’t help but be excited to solve, and none of the six eight-letter entries disappointed. No matter the era one grew up, I’m pretty sure a lot of you had a DREAM CAR growing up, and I’ll admit that my first dream car that I had was the DeLorean from Back to the Future (36D: [Fantasy wheels, like a red Corvette]). What was your dream car growing up? And did you ever end up getting it?

The only real slip-up in the grid that I had was initially spelling CAROTENE with a “k” at the beginning of the word (6D: [Beta ___]). If a solver of today’s grid is a New York Yankees fan, this puzzle was for you! First, there’s BERRA, the all-time great catcher and “philosopher” (35D: [Yogi who said “Never answer an anonymous letter”]). Then there’s LOLA in reference to one of the main characters in a famous comedy focused on the New York Yankees baseball hegemony in the 1950s (59D: [“Damn Yankees” vamp]). And there’s the man who many people still consider to be the single-season home run king.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MARIS (60A: [Baseball great Roger]) – Here’s a little bit of trivia. Who won the American League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1960, the year before New York Yankee outfielder Roger Maris made history by breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record with 61 homers in 1961? The answer is…

…Roger Maris! Maris’ home run record came a year after he led the AL in slugging percentage (.581), extra base hits (64) and RBI (112) in 1960, winning the first of his back-to-back MVP awards. Not a small feat when considering one of his teammates was baseball great and deity Mickey Mantle! Along with the two World Series titles he won with the Yankees in 1961 and 1962, Maris was an integral part in the St. Louis Cardinals’ run to the 1967 World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox. Maris is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame despite those achievements, a debate that has raged on with baseball enthusiasts for decades. 

Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful — and safe — rest of your day and, as always, keep solving! (If I haven’t done it in this space before, let me thank previous CN blogger Janie Smulyan for allowing me to continue to use her “keep solving” tag! Thank you!!)

Take care!


Lee Taylor’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 5 5 20, no. 0505

Theme is old riddles, with “riddle-de-dee” in the clues for some reason:

  • 17a. [Riddle-de-dee: What is it that the more you take, the more you leave behind?], FOOTSTEPS.
  • 62a. [Riddle-de-dee: What asks no questions but must be answered?], TELEPHONE. Incorrect! There are so many phone calls you need not answer.
  • 11d. [Riddle-de-dee: What’s light as a feather but can’t be held for long?], YOUR BREATH.
  • 30d. [Riddle-de-dee: What’s clean when black and dirty when white?], CHALKBOARD. I suspect most classrooms now have whiteboards with dry-erase markers rather than blackboards with chalk.

The whole puzzle felt sort of old to me. With GAFF and ZOOT in the opening corner and very few current references in the puzzle (TEDDY , it just felt like this 50-something solver wasn’t in the target audience. With two of the themers being compounds, it also felt odd to have KICKBALL and HEAD SHOP as random fill.

Three things:

  • 48d. [Walk with a swing of the hips and shoulders], SASHAY. Raise your hand if you would have appreciated a RuPaul’s Drag Race “sashay away” reference here.
  • 32a. [Things tinier than minis], MICROS. I don’t know what MICROS are. Anyone got some to tell us about?
  • 25d. [Professional poker player, e.g.], GAMESTER. Are you kidding me? Merriam-Webster reports that the first known usage of the word in its “gambler” meaning was in 1549. That … might have been the word’s heyday?

I didn’t much enjoy this puzzle. Three stars from me.



Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword — “Food Fit for a King”

Today, we’re starting with the entree and ending with the appetizer!

THEME: Hockey related terms are found in food

Universal crossword solution · “Double Tease” · Zhouqin Burnikel · Tue., 5.5.20


  • 17A [Hockey player’s favorite entree?] BLADE STEAK. BLADE as in the BLADE of a hockey skate.
  • 26A [Hockey player’s favorite dessert?] ICE CREAM CAKE. ICE? I think.
  • 43A [Hockey player’s favorite snack item?] PRETZEL STICK. STICK as in a hockey STICK.
  • 59A [Hockey player’s favorite appetizer?] TURKEY WING. WING, as I found out after googling, is a position in hockey.

I was excited to see the byline today before solving, and I was surprised when this one fell flat (themewise) for me. That almost never happens with a Burnikel puzzle. While I do like the tightness of the idea (and the title which is referring to the Los Angeles Kings!), it took me a long time to see the relationship between the answers and hockey. I thought the food part of the answer was what I should be looking at- like is PRETZEL a hockey related term? When I realized I should be looking at the other side of the answer and found STICK and ICE, it lost its zippiness. It was also made a bit hazier by the hockey term changing sides of the theme answers. Last gripe is that I would’ve liked to see the appetizer in the first spot rather than the last!

Fill is pretty standard. One of these days I’ll remember the brand of Japanese beer! ASAHI!

2.5 stars from me today.

Roger & Kathy Wienberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up

5.5.20 WSJ Solution

5.5.20 WSJ Solution

19A: LIFETIME MEMBERS [They never need to renew]
37A: EXTREME MEASURES [What desperate situations call for]
52A: WELCOME MESSAGES [Greetings to new subscribers]

Each of this puzzle’s theme entries has the doublet of ME ME spanning its words, which ties in nicely with the ME TOO (ME x 2) revealer and the “I repeat” (I = ME x 2) title. Nice! What was puzzling about the revealer is that it wasn’t clued with respect to the super current and wildly relevant #metoo movement. I understand a simpler clue of [“Ditto!”] but it seemed like a very conscious editorial or clue writing choice to not reference #metoo.

Another puzzling and super unfortunate bit was the inclusion of [Georgia senator Loeffler] as the clue for KELLY, in light of insider trader revelations wherein she publicly said there was nothing to worry about with respect to COVID-19 while privately trading stocks with the knowledge that it would be hugely impactful and damaging. If the reports are true, she put lives at risk for her own profit at one of the worst moments in our nation’s recent history. To me, that might be a reason to clue KELLY in any of the myriad other possible ways.

Otherwise, this grid was clean and accessible, aside from maybe [Emmy winner Thompson] for SADA, though I was glad to learn of her. Hilariously, this puzzle might have featured the most erasing I’ve ever done in one grid – I was totally off the constructors’ wavelength! From the start, I had orate instead of SPEAK at 13A, etal instead of IBID at 15A, eclipse instead of MOONSET at 21D, binge instead of GORGE at 41A, etc. I wonder if anyone else had the same experience or if it was just me having an off day! Thankfully, there were some clutch downs that helped me lock some correct letters in place, including OREGANO, BEEF CATTLE, and COCKER.

Last note: Hooray for WOMEN as [Voters since 1920]! Yet, it’s important to remember that this was functionally only suffrage for white women. Black women and others couldn’t vote freely and without fear until much later.

Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Fresh Air” – Derek’s write-up

Jonesin’ 05/05/2020

I often read of the disdain for quote puzzles, but this one takes that idea in a different way.

  • 16A [Start of a path, which traces the opening lyric from a “Brady Bunch” song] I THINK I’LL GO FOR A WALK OUTSIDE NOW

I am not at all familiar with the Brady Bunch song, but no doubt this theme was also self-isolation inspired! If you’re like me, the weather is still horrible outside, especially for May. It is still in the 40s for a high temperature here in northern Indiana. Yuck! Hopefully summer will be here soon! 4.3 stars today.

More fun stuff:

  • 21A [Sonic Youth bassist/singer Kim] GORDON – Is this Gordon Kim or Kim Gordon? I have no idea!
  • 38A [Chain that merged with AMC Theatres] LOEWS – Gonna be awhile before I set foot in one of these. There’s nothing being released that is any good!
  • 47A [“___ & Juliet” (2011 animated film)] GNOMEO – I don’t remember this movie. Something else to watch!
  • 57A [Singer Rexha] BEBE – “Meant To Be” is my eight-year-old’s favorite song!
  • 59A [Grand Ole ___ (venue broadcasting live streams)] OPRY – What choice do they have? I think all musicians are doing this now. I have Billy Joel tickets for June at Notre Dame; I doubt that will happen, but who knows?
  • 60A [“Nailed It” host Nicole] BYER – This is a Netflix song I hear is really good but I have never seen. Something else to watch!
  • 3D [Classic “Muppet Show” song with that “do dooo do do-do” refrain] MAHNA MAHNA – This is spelled a few different ways, but a funny song. It’s all nonsense words!
  • 8D [East Indian lentil stew] DAL – I can never remember what this is. I don’t have Indian food that often, but when I have had it is was really good.
  • 27D [Ask for support, in a way] RAISE MONEY – KICKSTART almost fit!

That is all for now!

Barbara Lin’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up

LAT 05/05/2020

This is a byline I don’t know, but the name is in the database, so this must not be Barbara Lin’s first rodeo. But it is Derek’s first review of Barbara Lin, I do believe! I will be nice, but then again, I usually am!

Have you been digging out board games during the quarantine of the past two months? Then this theme will hit home for you!

  • 17A [*The opportunity to be successful again] A NEW LEASE ON LIFE
  • 24A [*”I’d do the same thing again”] NOT SORRY 
  • 33A [*”Stupid superstition,” for one] TONGUE TWISTER
  • 47A [*”Don’t be so oblivious”] GET A CLUE 
  • 54A [Evening with the kids, or when the ends of the answers to starred clues might be played] FAMILY GAME NIGHT 

Every night is game night now; I am actually tired of watching TV! And you cannot go wrong with the classics shown here, as well as many others (Risk, Scrabble, Boggle, etc.) Maybe I will teach my youngest how to play chess! Hope you’re finding some way to stay sane through all of this, other than by crosswords, I mean! 4.5 stars today.

A few more cool things:

  • 20A [Defunct luxury New York department store] BARNEY’S – Let’s go shopping! Not!!
  • 43A [Jones of the Monkees] DAVY – He’s been dead for 8 years now. Amazing.
  • 45A [“Ultimate Driving Machine” vehicles] BMWS – Always wanted one of these; maybe I’ll see if they’re giving them away now that no one is buying anything!
  • 1D [Unmoving Calder work] STABILE – You’ve seen these:
  • 35D [Ethylene __: antifreeze] GLYCOL – This is slightly tough for a Tuesday, but that’s OK!
  • 45D [Backyard barbecue staple] BURGER – They’re saying there is a beef shortage. We’ll all be vegans in the end!
  • 52D [Feds under Ness] T-MEN – I don’t know if I have ever seen The Untouchables. Something else to watch!

Have a happy and healthy week!

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11 Responses to Tuesday, May 5, 2020

  1. Dr Fancypants says:

    So apparently “unrelated set of riddles” is now considered a “theme” in the NYT? That’s unfortunate.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    1976(?) called and wanted its NYT back(Ex-DNALAB). Wholeheartedly agreeing with Amy, Pretty meh, felt a major slog

    TEDDY Kennedy was scum, if anyone is in the virtue signaling mood

    • Gary R says:

      The NYT did seem to play to an older audience. I’m in my mid-60’s, and it was right in my wheelhouse. But I’m not sure DNA labs were a thing in the 70’s – seems more like 80’s to me.

      Ted Kennedy, like many politicians (including his older brothers), was a mixed bag – depends on how much bad you’re willing to put up with to get the good. Some things seem never to change.

      • RM Camp says:

        Depending on your leanings, I suppose, he was pretty decent, policy-wise. But as a person, well, he was a Kennedy man. Was Bobby the womanizing bastard his brothers were? Both he and Jack were dead well over a decade before I was born and you don’t hear much about him apart from being the big hope for the dems in ‘68.

  3. Allan says:

    In re the Universal puzzle, this may have been the single WORST puzzle I’ve ever done. It missed on so many levels, many of which were mentioned in the write up. There was absolutely nothing to tie the themes together. The inclusion of BLADE STEAK as a themer was just awful. I thought because of the title that the themers were going to add ‘LA’ to some well known phrase (which at least would have been a thing), but alas, BDE STEAK made me realize there was to be no such word play. I give this one zero stars.

    • Billy Boy says:

      Re: Universal
      Your comment made me go do (Fly through) it.

      Yeah, theme answers were lame but pretty standard commercial puzzle, did not find it worst ever. I like to think of “Worst Ever” requiring very high aspirations to begin with and then failing miserably.

      To explain myself –
      In Golf Course Architecture, which I critique, to be an utter failure (0 out of 10) a course must be trying to pass itself off as something truly special, someone spent a lot of bucks building it and then to fail spectacularly. A humble course can’t do that, so I see the Universal that way.

      I’m not really sophisticated as to puzzle construction so I may be wrong.


  4. Brenda Rose says:

    Jim Q – The way I remember that Japanese beer is As A High. Mnemonics, ya gotta luv ’em.

  5. marciem says:

    Jonesin’… I’m completely lost on how the circled letters have anything to do with the Brady Bunch song lyrics???

    Any help?

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